Archive for September, 2007

A strange way to dramatically speed up Windows XP

Summary: ‘resetting’ the XP swap file causes a dramatic increase in performance.

Notes

  1. This hack seems so stupid, and implausible that I don’t blame you for being sceptical. I suggest you TRY it OUT, and see the results for yourself. Believe me, it works, and the results are quite amazing, especially on low ram PC’s
  2. This hack works best on PC’s with under 1GB ram (In my case, I tried it on a PC with 512MB) - if your PC has 2GB or more it probably won’t make much difference.
  3. Update: someone commented that you can defragment the swap file also, via pagedefrag - I don’t think the problem is in fragmentation of the swap file but rather the simple fact that, over a few months of use, XP develops an unnatural reliance on the swap file, and tries to use it more than physical memory - by zapping the file, XP starts over again, and is much more faster. Again, I know this all sounds rather absurd, but it actually works.
  4. If you try this out, let me know!

Long boring preamble
Have you ever noticed how fast your PC is after a fresh OS/Software install? How the OS seems crisp and fast, and applications load up almost instantly?

And how… after a few months of use, your PC seems to slow down to a crawl? How even booting up seems to take forever, how launching the simplest applications causes your PC to struggle? Well I’ve always wondered what causes this ‘Windows Rot” phenomenon (aside from poor programming at M$).

What I used to do earlier, was reinstall everything on my PC every few months.

Eventually (due to product activation requirements) this became a hassle, so I now keep a backup mirror and restore it every once in a way. Still, this is a hassle, because I have to re-install any new software I was using, also restore various system settings.

Today, I was wondering to myself, does the swap file have anything to do with this problem - after all, the hard disk light starts staying on when the PC slows down - which seem’s to indicate swap file use.

So, I decided to try deleting the swap file. The beast way to do this was by setting it to a small size - e.g. 2MB, restarting the PC, and setting it back to the original size.

Here’s the procedure (simplified somewhat):
(this procedure refers to XP but you can follow similar methods in other windows versions, also, don’t attempt to drastically reduce swap file space, even temporarily, on machines with under 512MB ram)

Caution: don’t mess with your swap file unless you know what you are doing!

  1. Right click my computer, select properties
  2. Click the ‘Advanced’ tab
  3. Under performance, click Settings
  4. Click the ‘Advanced’ tab
  5. Click ‘change’ under Virtual memory
  6. Make a note of the existing swap file(s)
  7. Set the current swap file to a very small size (e.g. 2mb)
  8. Restart the PC, and resize the swap file back to its original size Initial Size equal to the 1.5 to 2.0 times your physical RAM (from a comment below!)
  9. Restart the PC once more

Results:

The results were dramatic and surprising. I think I can confirm that (for XP, on a PC with under 1GB ram) this procedure returns your PC to (almost) the original post software install stage.

Does this sound crazy? Don’t believe me? Just try it RIGHT now, and I bet you will notice a significant speed difference in your PC.

It’s just magical: applications which struggled to load earlier now load up rapidly, just as they used to when the XP installation was fresh. Everything just works faster - even simple tasks like switching between windows!

So why does this work? I’m not sure but I speculate it has something to do with the way Windows uses the swap file.

Try this and let me know what happens (post a comment here)

25 comments September 8th, 2007


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